The Boston Red Sox can clinch their first World Series title at home in 95 years following a 3-1 Game 5 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals and ace pitcher Adam Wainwright.
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings last night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where David Ross snapped a 1-1 tie with a run-scoring double in the seventh inning. Jacoby Ellsbury also drove in a run during the inning with a single off Wainwright, who hadn’t lost in four previous postseason home starts while logging a 1.26 earned run average.
Koji Uehara got the final four outs for his record-tying seventh save this postseason as the Red Sox seized a three-games-to-two lead in Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship contest. The World Series shifts back to Boston for Game 6 tomorrow night and a decisive seventh game, if necessary, is scheduled for Oct. 31 at Fenway Park.
“The fact is we’re going home, going back to a place where the guys love to play,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said at a postgame news conference. “And we’re more excited about going home in the position we are.”
The Red Sox, who in 2012 finished in last place in the American League East division, can capture their eighth World Series title and third in 10 years with a win tomorrow.
The 1991 Minnesota Twins are the only team in MLB history to win a World Series the season after a last-place finish.
Boston hasn’t clinched a World Series at home since 1918. The Red Sox won their last title in 2007 in Denver against the Colorado Rockies, three years after ending an 86-year championship drought in St. Louis.
The Cardinals head to Boston with a challenging road to a 12th World Series title. Of the previous 19 teams that lost Game 5 at home in a best-of-seven MLB playoff series that was tied 2-2, the only one to come back and win the final two games on the road was the Atlanta Braves in the 1991 National League Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
St. Louis, which had the second-best home record in the majors this season, lost the past two games at Busch Stadium after opening a 2-1 series lead.
“Our guys have been backed up against the wall before,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “This isn’t foreign to them. They know what they have to do. It starts with the mentality that it’s a great challenge.”
The Red Sox, after a 4-2 win in Game 4 to tie the series, jumped out to a 1-0 lead last night on David Ortiz’s run-scoring double in the first inning. Ortiz went 3-for-4 and is hitting .733 in the World Series with six runs batted in.
St. Louis tied it in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Matt Holliday, ending Lester’s run of 16 2/3 scoreless innings in the World Series. It was the only run allowed by Lester, who lowered his ERA in 11 postseason starts to 1.97.
Boston went ahead in the seventh when Xander Bogaerts singled and Stephen Drew, who had one hit in his previous 14 World Series at-bats, walked. Wainwright’s lone walk of the game was a costly one, as Ross followed with a ground-rule double into the left-field corner to put the Red Sox ahead 2-1. Ellsbury added a two-out single to score Drew.
“We thought this was going to be a classic pitchers’ duel, it was shaping up that way and fortunately we were able to break through in the seventh inning,” Farrell said.
The Cardinals managed only one hit over the final three innings against Lester and Uehara. The seven saves recorded by Uehara this postseason tie the record set by John Wetteland in 1996 and matched by Troy Percival and Robb Nen in 2002, and again by Brad Lidge in 2008.
Lester joined Babe Ruth as the second left-handed pitcher in Red Sox history to win three World Series games in a career. Lester’s performance came five days after he pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in Boston’s Game 1 win and then faced questions about a foreign substance on his glove.
“There was a lot of hoopla after my last start,” said Lester, who had told reporters he put rosin in his glove to help dry sweat from his pitching hand. “If you go out and don’t pitch very well, people are going to immediately go back to that. So that was the biggest thing, making sure I proved to people that that’s what it was and I’m a good pitcher.”
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